The Nerds of the Roundtable return! This time out, they weigh in on comics that take their time coming out.
Outhouse Roundtable, Royal Nonesuch gathers the writing staff of The Outhouse to get to know where they stand in the landscape of comic book fandom. The formula is simple: one question, a joyous multitude of answers.
Week 6: What are your thoughts on late comics?
Although ideally it would be nice if things come out on the date they're solicited, I'm not particularly affected when a comic book comes out late. A part of this, I'm sure, has to do with my (admittedly peculiar) buying habits. It takes me about six months to actually swing by my comic shop and pick up my list (and once I do, it still takes me some time before I actually read them). It's a pattern that I've always followed for reasons I won't go into here (that's a future column). Usually, I don't even notice if something's late. Plus, I've been reading more and more trades, and since the industry really leans on that format more and more I don't find myself thinking about late issues in a practical sense. When I'm re-reading a comic book story, I'm never saying to myself "This is good, but it would have been better if the fourth issue came out a month earlier."
I do like to read my comics monthly. So, when a book is extremely late, I find I may have forgotten what happened in the previous issue. This wouldn't be so bad if comics weren't so decompressed, but when, in reality, it really takes five issues to make up a full story, it's difficult to follow that story when there's several months between.
Imagine if you were watching the latest episode of House, and you just watched the first ten minutes of it, then paused it and waited until two months later to watch the next ten minutes, etc. etc. It would be horrible. This actually applies to monthly books that aren't late as well, which is a failing of trying to continue to produce monthly issues when you're really writing for them trades that come out every six months, but when a book is extra late, it just adds to this problem.
Then, on the other hand, you have hilariously late titles like All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. In a case like that, the lateness of the book actually contributed to the fanboy-enraging appeal of the whole project, and in doing so actually made the book better. This is a rare case though.
It all depends on how late we're talking. If a book misses it's scheduled release date by a month or so, I won't hold it against the title. If something takes half a year or more to release the next issue, then we're going to have issues. Most of those issues are going to be me justifying the purchase. Take Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk, for example. There was a three year gap between issue 2 and 3. THREE YEARS. I applaud the creative team for finally pulling together and finishing that series off because after that long of time, I'd be tempted to just drop it. In fact, from a reader's standpoint, I did. I have the first two issues but by the time that third issue hit the stands, my interest was gone. I just didn't care any more. And really, that's the major problem: if you wait too long, you lose that excitement and you lose readers. It's not because we're pissed that it took so long. We probably got over that at the end of the first year. We just don't care any more.
I'm still waiting for Daredevil: The Target #2 and Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #3.
Again it depends on the reason it's late. I've felt the same way as the writers above about the various reasons for late books, but here is some thing that hasn't been mentioned yet.
One of the most frustrating things as a consumer is when there is a product you want to spend your money on and the company that makes that product won't release the product to the public. What is most aggravating to me is when a company decides to push back the release date of a book for reasons that have nothing to do with the production of the book. The book is finished and it is held back for marketing reasons or due to a contract or editorial dispute. They want to keep a book in the can until the new movie comes out. The artist or writer said some naughty words about the editor in an interview. Editorial doesn't want the character back on earth till after the event so the book is put on hiatus. The event book is late due to production delays so the company wants to delay ALL the other books that are effected by that one book so it won't be spoiled. WE HAVE MONEY WE WANT TO GIVE YOU! YOU HAVE A FINISHED PRODUCT! SELL IT TO US!!!
This is an even bigger problem when the product is held back in the U.S. but released in foreign markets. It can kill a popular property. This is more of a problem with animation but it tends to happen mostly with comic book and sci-fi properties. This happened before with Justice League airing in Canada months before airing in the U.S. but I'm going to us the example of what is happening now with Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Disney XD has put the hit show on hiatus. At first it was going to be a winter break, then a longer break to give other shows the spotlight, then until the summer movies come out, and finally there are now rumors that the rest of season one will now be used as season two in the fall and the real season two will be season three. The schedulers at Disney XD aren't looking at the big picture. Disney/Marvel licensed the show out to be broadcast in other countries. When they were making the contracts they weren't taking the internet and the mentality of the average fan into account. Most people aren't going to download a movie that is out in the theaters or a TV show that is available for sale on DVD. A show that has aired in another country, with commercials, that will air in the U.S. eventually with commercials, and the person viewing it fully intends to buy the DVD full season box sets when they come out, maybe even buy most of the action figures associated with the show, a lot of them feel downloading and watching Avengers off the internet is fair game. Most of them that have watched the rest of season one has said it bumped JLU from their favorite super hero cartoon of all time and replaced it with Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
There is just one problem. The people that downloaded it liked Avengers so much that they watched it over and over again. By the time the show airs on Disney XD they probably won't feel the desire to sit down and watch at it's scheduled time. The excitement and need to talk about it on the internet will be months past. That cuts into the ratings and the word of mouth advertising for the show. The network will think the show is not as popular as it thought and possibly cancel or lower it's production budget. The reality will be that the show was so popular people weren't willing to wait till Disney got around to airing the show starring Captain America in America when the show has already aired in Australia!
I know the corporate types will want to go after the downloaders, but getting stuff off the internet is like getting pee out of a swimming pool. You'll loose more money and fans than you'll save. With comic books fighting to sell over 200k issues per book per month, I dare Marvel to litigate against their fans like the record industry did. The only way to stop this from happening is if when the product is finished to release it in all markets at the same time when you said you were going to release it.
john lewis hawk:
Not a big concern for me. If comic book companies don't want my money, I'll give it to record companies, blackjack tables, and hookers.
There are times I don't mind late products, and there are times I do. Growing up I guess I didn't really realize that comics were late or not, it wasn't until the dawn of the Internet Age where I really noticed it. If it's a big comic I believe they should have some in the can before they solicit it, so things don't get screwed up, like Civil War was. If it affects the entire line of a publisher then it needs to be on time. Things like say Young Avengers or even All Star Batman and Robin or Ultimates I'm okay with waiting on.
I have two views on this: Late comics are totally unacceptable when they delay a monthly series, but are totally fine when they delay a limited or out-of-continuity series. Delays in monthly books can kill momentum in stories and push readers away. For example, Marvel's decision to delay One More Day for multiple months only made a bad situation worse. By stretching out the controversial story, Marvel gave outraged readers more time--and reason--to condemn the decision to reverse twenty years of Spidey history. Marvel should have put out the book quickly and moved on. Instead of focusing on and looking forward to Brand New Day, fans were left waiting for a story that only got worse with each successive chapter. And when it finally did end, many fanboys had already dropped ASM and had no interest to see where the book was headed. Certainly, that was my response. In those months between OMD issues, I'd learned to live without my Spidey fix, and I haven't read a Spidey book regularly ever since.
On the other hand, I don't mind when an artist or writer falls behind schedule on a limited story that has no impact on the rest of a shared universe. For instance, I didn't mind the massive delays on Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. The book was never going to be more than a gruesome and mostly pointless battle between two heroes who'd fought each other multiple times before. That I had to wait several years to see whether a dismembered Logan would be able to find his legs again didn't keep me awake at night. I was happy when the story was completed, and I enjoyed blasting through the six-issue romp. It was a pleasure to reread the first two issues and refresh my memory once the rest of the chapters came out. Most important, the delays here didn't affect or disrupt any other books. So there was no major downside in having to wait for the conclusion.
Do YOU have a question you'd like to pose The Nerds of the Roundtable? Leave that question in the comments below, or let Royal Nonesuch know!
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch
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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch
As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well. You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.
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